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The 1960s Cultural Revolution: Was it a Triumph for Individualism - Essay Example

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The 1960s progressed at a frenetic pace, underscored with rebellion and conflict. McWilliams (2000) states that this was the most tumultous decade in the 20th century. …
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The 1960s Cultural Revolution: Was it a Triumph for Individualism
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Download file to see previous pages Anti-Establishment approaches and noncompliance with authority were characterised by the Hippie or “flower children” movement, while the feminist movement gathered strength as a force to contend with, and communism took a firm hold with several governments turning to the Left in the early 1960s. Popular culture including cinema and the media underwent changes, exalting individualism and the concept of ‘self’, as opposed to conventional rules and norms promoting collectivism. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the 1960s Cultural Revolution was a triumph for individualism. Cultural Revolution in the 1960s In the United States popular culture “the Sixties” is a term used in various contexts such as history, journalism and other academic domains. Not only does the term nostalgically denote the counterculture and social revolution near the end of the decade, but also derogatively describes the era as filled with irresponsibility, excesses, and flamboyance. Further, several social taboos such as those related to racism and sexism were brought down, resulting in the decade being labelled as the ‘Swinging Sixties’. The 1960s are considered to be synonymous with the radical and subversive trends of the period which continued to develop in the following decades. The phenomenon is characterised by its mass nature, where people broke free of the social constraints of the previous era by deviating extremely from the norm, as a result of the demand for greater individual freedom. Some commentators such as Booker (1970) perceive a classical Jungian nightmare cycle in this phenomenon, charting the rise, success, fall, nightmare and explosive dissipation, particularly in the west.1968 particularly stood out as the most difficult in the decade of turmoil. Even before the year began, dozens of race riots, frequent episodes of violence and inhumane acts against civil rights activists in the South, and the war in Vietnam dominated the news. There appeared to be no end to the conflict, and the country was falling apart (McWilliams 2000). A highly durable legacy is anticipated from history’s production of an era as momentous and as electrifying as the 1960s. The fast-moving decade appeared to be synonymous with rebellion and conflict. The 1960s stood out from the other decades in the 20th century as a time of challenge, trial, anguish as well as achievement. “No other decade, save the 1860s, when the nation was at war with itself for four years, has been so tumultous” (McWilliams 2001: 1). Americans revolted against conventional moral conduct, violations of civil rights, authoritarianism in universities, gender discrimination, the establishment, and of course, the war in Southeast Asia. Thus, “within a generation, the national consensus forged during the nation’s victorious effort in World War II had come under attack” (McWilliams 2001: 1). A counterculture of hippies or young people in conflict with mainstream society, challenged conventional and widely accepted cultural practices, and adopted an alternative lifestyle. Conflict, disillusionment, and shattering of social harmony were the result of Tom Hayden’s 1962 declaration of counterculture political ideology initiating the emergence of the New Left. Traditional conformity was replaced by unprecedented individualism and the redefining of the conventional code of conduct (Hayden 2005). Change is inevitable and seldom progresses smoothly, but the cultural revolution in the 1960s was not only ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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